The month of June should stir the youth in Malawi to think about the past as well as the future. Our Reporter, MarcFarlane Mbewe, argues that there is no political consciousness in the youth or their leaders.
THE month of June holds special meaning for the youth of Malawi. It was this month, 23 years ago, when they set fire to the political landscape.
The youth in their teens and 20s, voted in a referendum on 14th June 1993, that said “no more’” to a cruel, single party dictatorship that their parents had endured for almost 30 years.
A year later, they voted in large numbers, all of them for the first time in their lives in the historic multiparty elections that ushered in a new era of multiparty democracy.
In South Africa too, it was youth leaders who demonstrated political consciousness both at Sharpvale and through the Soweto Uprising of June 16, 1976, that eventually brought the abhorrent system of apartheid crashing down and into the dustbin of history.
In both occasions, the youth were the overwhelming factor. They made up the largest numbers of voters.
It was in recognition of these important historical developments that Malawi’s first government in the multiparty era, then under former President Bakili Muluzi, declared June 14 as Freedom Day and a public holiday.
Muluzi’s successor, Bingu wa Mutharika, however decided to scrap the day, possibly as his way of politically slapping Muluzi in the face and instead reinstated May 14 as a holiday in honour of Malawi’s former life president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, the very dictator that Muluzi had defeated.
Muluzi had scrapped off the day, which was regarded as Banda’s official birthday.
So, up to now, there has been no succeeding president who has bothered to honour, let alone officially recognise the role that the youth have played in ushering in political freedom in Malawi.
Our political leaders are now mostly elderly men and women, in their 70s and older.
Those youth of that bygone era of freedom are now their helpers and handmaidens who are all eating from the pot of institutions that make up as the spoils of state capture by the ageing leaders.
The new breed of youth now on the political landscape seems to have no idea of the political direction they should be taking.
They are devoid of political consciousness.
Even the phenomena and developments around Vice President Saulos Chilima have so far not woken up the youth to a new opportunity to become political consciousness.
Chilima himself, even after declaring his intention to break away from the governing DPP has also not articulated his vision or programmes that would excite and offer new hope to the youth of Malawi.
The presidential and general elections are now only about eleven months away. Time is running out for leaders such as Chilima to help steer a young generation of Malawi to a better future.
The new generation of youth, according to studies by political scientists and sociologists, will make up the biggest voting population in the coming elections.
Many of these youth are already quite excited at the prospect of voting for the first time, but how politically conscious are they of their strength and the direction that they help to steer for Malawi?
This month of June offers an historical reminder to our new crop of aspiring leaders that there is an army of youth out that needs to be conscientised and reminded of its responsibilities and power to steer Malawi to a better place.
What do others think? We at The Express would welcome your views and publish them, even if they are diametrically opposed to ours.